Today we welcome a guest blogger, Abby Schexnayder.  Abby is 13 years old and attends Woodland Jr. High School in Fayetteville.   Abby recently participated in our day camp at the Illinois River Watershed Sanctuary and writes about her camping experience!


My IRWP summer camp experience was very fun; it was a lot more fun than staying inside doing nothing and being glued to my phone. Being outside was actually…. fun! I got to do some really awesome activities at Watershed Camp.


Abby Schexnayder

Abby Schexnayder, attending Watershed Day Camp


I admire the outdoors, but really got to experience it in a new way during my day at camp. When we first got there, I was amazed to see the new building that the IRWP has now. I really like the realistic cave they are building inside. It looks just like the real cave they have. We got to spend a few minutes getting to know each other before we got started. I was excited that my best friend Krista and her sisters got to come with me too. Unfortunately, my little brother had to come…


Illinois River Map

Map of the Illinois River

After we got to know each other, we looked at a map of the Illinois River Watershed, which is in Arkansas and Oklahoma. It was neat to find Cave Springs on the map. Lauren Ray, our camp leader, taught us that the Illinois River starts in Hogeye, Arkansas. Then we went over the ground rules and headed outside.


Loch Lono on 6-11-14

Loch Lono Dam, built in 1914

First, we went to look at the old dam that’s 100 years old, but it didn’t look that old. Then we went to the greenhouse, where we learned about butterflies and native flowers. There was a pretty purple flower that looked like rock candy. They also have a rain garden that takes rain and cleans it. Then we walked up the old stairs and learned what different plants were, including what poison ivy looks like. The hike was exciting. We ran into a lot of cool stuff, like frogs, snails, plants, and big trees. I learned that they have Black Cherry and Sycamore trees.


Water wheel and water flow

Water wheel at Illinois River Watershed Sanctuary

The hike took us back to the cave, it was nice and cool back there and we got to cool off by putting our feet in the water. It was hot outside, but it felt good in the water. The cave was huge and had a water wheel in it. Did you know that the cave has endangered bats and blind cavefish in it? The cavefish do not have eyes because they live in the cave and don’t need to see. We didn’t get to see the real bats, but we got to know what they looked like from the cave they are building inside. They are really small!

Lauren got a Jewel leaf and put it under water. It turned a shiny silver color and sparkled. That was cool. We did some art projects about our point of view as a fish and what we would see underwater and something interesting we saw that day. When we were finished, we headed back to the Watershed Learning Center.

I’m for sure going to be going the next time I’m able to, especially with Krista and her sisters and maybe my little brother can come too. Note to self – wear sunscreen, leave your phone at home, and you will for sure have a lot of fun!

-Abby Schexnayder


For more information about Watershed Day Camps, click here!